The Greater Lafayette Career Academy Culinary program partners with Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette to explore local restaurants and put together dining blogs showcasing their experiences. This blog is written by Marialis, culinary student at the Greater Lafayette Career Academy with input from Angel and Xavier.
Sichuan House is located just outside of Purdue’s campus in Downtown Lafayette. This restaurant is an ideal place to enjoy lunch or dinner and is in the perfect location to dine at before or after visiting well known downtown attractions such as The Spinning Axe, Rugged Xscape, or downtown retail shops.
As we entered Sichuan House, we were immediately greeted with a peaceful ambience and a serene sitting area with classical Chinese instrumental music playing. The dining area was equipped with large circular tables to make the passing of dishes easier. Sichuan House is a Chinese restaurant that promotes communal dining, large portions and plates that are meant to be shared amongst the table. Sichuan cuisine is a style of Chinese cooking originating from Sichuan province of China. We learned from our server that this is where the name Sichuan House comes from. As the Greater Lafayette Career Academy (GLCA) Culinary students looked at the menu, one student by the name of Xavier mentioned the menu having a few menu items that were like foods that the students had made in their lab kitchen. Most notably, the students pointed out having made General Tso Chicken, Spring rolls, and Braised short ribs for catering and as daily lab kitchen lessons.
As the group looked at the menu, we were amazed by the many options on the menu that were available each day. Our amazing server was ready to help, explaining and recommending dishes as well as making sure we all understand and knew the spice levels of the dishes. We were glad for the server’s input; he was not lying when he said the Sautéed beef with pepper pod was spicy! We struggled to finish that dish without having mounds of rice piled underneath a single piece of the chili pepper and peanut added meats.
The Culinary students were the most excited to see and try the many different dishes of Sichuan Chinese food, having made a list of dishes they would like to more explanation of and the dishes they wanted to try. They ordered wontons with chili oil to start the lunch off with, being a bit too eager to try the food that they couldn't wait for a photo to be taken. Both the students and VLWL staff loved the wontons and were blown away by their taste and flavor.
For their entrees, the culinary students decided to be brave and ordered Mongolian beef, beef fried rice and sautéed lamb with scallion. As for the Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette staff, Emily ordered the shredded pork with garlic sauce which is a common dish in Sichuan. She was very happy with her choice and enjoyed it’s sweet and sour taste. Those at the table who also tried this dish enjoyed it and raved about it’s tanginess. Gabbi was recommended the Sautéed beef with Chili pods by our server. His recommendation was spot on. Gabbi loved the dish and shared it with the table. Lastly, Jo ordered the spicy string beans which were prepared to perfection, not overly spicy for her, seasoned exactly as she likes, no breading and not overcooked. They were crunchy and flavorful. The six top table ended up being a bit too small for all the dishes we ordered. We played a game of pass around the dish and a slight game of Tetris as we reorganized dish after dish. The circular tables were useful as we each had enough space to eat without bumping elbows and we all ate comfortably. Everyone enjoyed the family style of eating where we could all try multiple food items as a group.
The fan favorite and star of the lunch was the Mongolian beef. As everyone tried some of each dish, the Mongolian beef was reached for most often, especially by the students. The sautéed onions that were paired with the beef were the perfect addition. The Culinary students were not afraid to load up on their veggies and the rice.
The service at Sichuan House was amazing, as soon as the food was placed onto the table, our server let us dig in and enjoy our meal. The service style was very reminiscent of Italian and French food serving as the food serving style was focused on allowing the group to speak together and eat in peace, coming by the table if they were flagged down and called. This allowed for the students to talk about their program, how it prepared them for college and their next steps after college, and the many opportunities presented from culinary. They talked about the catering they do, how they are Servsafe certified, and the many real world situations they learn from the Career Academy.
We found that the food was not only phenomenal, but it was also perfect for everyone to get out of their comfort zones and try new things. As the students learned more about what Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette does and what was available in our city, the Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette staff learned more about the only Career Academy in the area. The overall experience from the atmosphere, service, and of course the food was top notch. We all thought very highly of our experience at Sichuan House and will definitely be back!